Wednesday, January 11, 2012

In The Beginning

As I read about the physicists' dismay at the possibility of our "accidental universe" amid myriad possible universes, I am puzzled over what we expect to find, ultimately, in so-called fundamental particles or laws. After all, what physical law could be so fundamental as to entail the existence of something rather than nothing?

The human mind has two explanatory needs, one for cause-and-effect and the other for narrative meaning, but it seems to me that both of these cannot be satisfied at the same time. Science does a marvelous job of explaining the behavior of matter within the range of conceivable human experience, but as we pursue cause-and-effect into the remoteness of time and abstraction, science leads to infinite regression. At a certain point, neither the Big Bang nor the infinite multiverse suffices as explanation; one can only say that there is something rather than nothing and that is that. We don't know why.

Narrative accounts on the other hand may gratify the basic emotional need for explanation, but then science goes out the window. There is something rather than nothing because God is in all places and all times--on this view a warm glow of necessity takes the place of the implacably arbitrary.

We have evolved as both calculating and valuing creatures, but these local faculties, while estimable in the human milieu, bear diminishing power into the deeps of space and time.

1 comment:

#1 Cuz said...

Welcome back! Missed your musings.